UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich. – The Michigan Tech football team fell at Saginaw Valley State Saturday afternoon 23-7 in what was the opening contest of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference schedule for both teams. The Huskies scored first for the third straight week, but the Cardinals recorded 23 unanswered points, including 17 in the fourth quarter to pull away.
"In the second half we didn't stop the run as effectively as we needed to and we struggled to run the ball ourselves on offense," Michigan Tech Head Coach Steve Olson said. "Early on in the game our pass rush and the ability to stop the run were bright spots for us on defense. Offensively, there were a couple of great throws and catches so I think there are some good things to grow and build on going into next weekend. We just have to go back and find out what we need to fix and get those things worked on. Our guys played hard and gave great effort today like they always do and we'll get back to practice this week and prepare for Grand Valley State."
Michigan Tech (2-1, 0-1 GLIAC) started strong Saturday afternoon with a touchdown on the opening drive of the contest. Saginaw Valley State (3-0, 1-0 GLIAC) won the coin flip and deferred to the second half, allowing the Huskies to have the ball first. Junior quarterback Will Ark fired a couple of nice passes on the drive, first finding junior wide receiver Jordan Janssen for 18-yards on a third down and eight play to keep the drive alive.
Then on third down and seven from the Tech 48-yard line, Ark delivered a strike over the middle of the field to senior wide receiver Jacob Wenzlick who bolted 52-yards for the score. The extra point by senior Evan Gornick was good, giving Tech a 7-0 lead with 12:37 left in the first quarter.
Unfortunately, the first quarter score would be the only one for the Huskies the rest of the afternoon. The Cardinals answered with a 47-yard field goal from Connor Luksic on the ensuing possession that made it 7-3 with 5:47 left in the quarter. Then with 6:17 to play in the half, Saginaw Valley State connected on another triple by Luksic from 43-yards out to slice Tech's lead to 7-6.
The rest of the first half was dominated by the defenses on both sides. The Huskies, who led the GLIAC with eight team sacks coming into the game, added six more to the season total in the first 30 minutes of the contest. Senior defensive back Michael Betz also thwarted a potential Cardinals scoring opportunity with his second interception of the season late in the second quarter.
The Huskies maintained the 7-6 edge going into the fourth quarter, but a Saginaw Valley State touchdown on the third play of the fourth quarter sent the Cardinals in front to stay. Ryan Conklin found Michael King on a six-yard pass in the back-left corner of the end zone to make it 13-7 with 13:38 remaining in the game.
The Cardinals defense made things difficult on Tech's offense on the ensuing drive, reeling in an interception on a third and 10 play. Saginaw Valley State took over at their 35-yard line and got back in the end zone for the second time in the game. Nate McCrary crossed the goal line on a 4-yard run and with the extra point the score expanded to 20-7 in the Cardinals favor with 11:23 left in the game. Saginaw Valley State then tacked on a late 26-yard field goal, courtesy of Luksic, resulting in the 23-7 final.
Ark completed 15 passes for 242 yards and one touchdown to help lead the Huskies attack. Wenzlick had a big game for Tech, reeling in six receptions for 114 yards and the 52-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter. Senior wide receiver Ben Hartley followed with three receptions for 66 yards and averaged 22 yards per reception. Freshman Emmett Boehler was Tech's leading rusher with 38 yards on 10 carries. As a team, the Huskies had 320 yards of total offense, with 242 yards being generated through the air.
Defensively, sophomore Tai Allen and senior Travis Tidwell each had 10 stops for the Huskies. Junior Nate LaJoie added nine stops, including 2.5 sacks and four tackles for a loss. Betz had the interception and four tackles on the defensive side of the ball. Overall, Tech ended the day with six more sacks giving them 14 on the season.
Conklin paced Saginaw Valley State's offense by completing 18 passes for 177 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. McCrary led all rushers with 131 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown while Chad Gailliard caught four passes for 50 yards. The Cardinals had 350 yards of total offense with nearly an even number of rushing and passing yards. Dillon Webb had six tackles followed Nick Whiteside and Michael Woolridge with five tackles and an interception apiece to guide the SVSU defense.
The Huskies will look to rebound next Saturday when they host Grand Valley State for Homecoming. The kickoff from Sherman Field at Kearly Stadium is slated for 1 p.m. eastern time.